Don’t wait for the perfect situation or opportunity. Make it happen!
Adding yet another fascinating interview to our developing Solo Female Traveler eBook, which will offer stories and advice from well-known Instagram female travelers. This time, we interviewed Solo Female RV Traveler, Rachael of @create.discover.nosh. Read about the ins and outs of Rachael’s journey as a metal smith and full time RVer.
Why did you choose this lifestyle?
I already had the pattern of moving to a different state every couple of years. Going through everything I owned, purging, packing, moving, unpacking, and once I started settling in I would accumulate more stuff and the process would start all over again. I loved all the experiences and people it led me to, but there is a certain level of stress and anxiety (at least for me), that came with making big moves like that and so frequently. About four years ago, I started working for myself and when I started to get that itch to move, it made sense to make my home mobile, so I could just take it with me.
How did you start this journey?
I remember it started as more of an idea for the future. Thinking it would be nice to one day live on the road with a partner and a couple dogs. I soon realized I didn’t need to wait for the perfect situation or opportunity, I was just going to go for it and make it happen. I waited for my lease on the house I was renting to be up and I bought an RV!
What do you love about it?
Change and control…
I’ve always been a lover of change. While a lot of people resist it, I have always leaned into it or searched it out. Change is new, change is exciting and it can lead to a world you didn’t know existed.
I feel like I’m more in control of my life and situations than ever before. If I want a lake front property or a mountain view, if I want to retreat into solitude or be surrounded by people, if I want to ditch the noisy obnoxious neighbors, the road will get me there.
What do you hate about it?
Someone once described RV’s to me as rolling earthquakes, which ultimately leads to always having to fix something. Whether it is outside or inside or under the hood, there is ALWAYS something that needs to be worked on or fixed.
What were the challenges you faced to get where you are today? Do you still face these challenges or are there new ones?
Oh boy have I faced some challenges! The RV that I bought was an older gal and someone who owned her previously did some amateur wiring that really has been the biggest contributor. I’ve been towed 6 times since owning her (thank goodness for roadside assistance with unlimited tows and that I was always in cell service when I needed them!!). I feel like I’ve finally worked out all the kinks and we’ve been smooth sailing for a while now. I just figured that life would throw my hurdles regardless if I was living in an RV or in a stationary home so I might as well stick with the one that is going to bring me the most joy.
Do you feel being female RV’ers/travelers poses a different scenario than being a male RV’er/traveler
I think women definitely have to be more aware and cautious of their surroundings. Not to say that there isn’t threats or people who are going to take advantage of men who travel alone, but there are definitely more threats to women. I don’t think that should stop anyone from living the life they want though. In my planning stages I prepared for things that would make me feel more safe and secure. I decided to buy an RV instead of a trailer or truck camper because I wanted to be able to jump from my living area to the driver’s seat if I needed to, thankfully I have never needed to, but I’m grateful for the peace of mind it gives. I also took a women’s self defense class before I left, which I highly recommend.
Who are your biggest supporters for this lifestyle?
To be honest, everyone in my life has been pretty darn supportive of my decision to live on the road. My mom of course was very nervous for my safety at first, but after over a year of staying in one piece, I think she’s realized it isn’t as dangerous as she was imagining. On the other hand she has been one of my biggest supporters. Her and my stepdad let me stay with them while I renovated my RV, which took A LOT longer than anticipated. Taking over their driveway and using all their tools was invaluable.
If you could do it all again, would you?
A thousand percent YES! I really believe I was meant to be doing this. I’ve had so many stumbling blocks throughout the journey, but every time I realized I am the happiest I’ve ever been despite all of the hard times.
Is there anything you would change?
Of course! Hindsight is always 20/20, am I right?! As someone who never grew up taking trips in RV’s or was never really exposed to them, it was very much a huge learning curve for me when I decided to buy one. I didn’t know what I would need or how my life was really going to be. I of course dreamed up a fantasized idea, but in reality, real life on the road is a lot different than how I imagined it was going to go.
Do you need to have a lot of money to do this?
Not at all. I think the wonderful thing about this lifestyle is that you can adjust it to what you can afford. There are so many resources online now that you can get by with very little. If you can’t afford gas, take it slower, stay in an area longer. If you can’t afford staying in RV parks, there are so many free spots or camp host gigs that will let you stay for free in exchange for work, I think there are even “workamping” gigs on farms that will feed you. For the time I’ve been on the road, I’ve seen so many different set ups that people have, from tents to Class A’s. They all had a desire to get on the road and made it happen with what they had.
How do you support yourself while on the road?
I am a metal smith and sell my jewelry online. It was one of the main reasons I realized I could work from anywhere. I love the freedom and creativity it gives me.
What would be your advice to those women who are looking to begin their journey as a solo female RV’er? Would this apply to both those who may travel for a week, to those who are looking at months to years on the road?
I think the most valuable advice I can give is don’t wait for everything to be perfect. I think that I have a tendency to want to do this and I overthink things. If you want to get on the road, start today by purging what you don’t need, saving money, figuring out how you are going to make money, figure out what the best set up for you is going to be and reach out to others doing it. It all starts with a desire and a plan.
What is the longest amount of time you have spent continuously on the road?
It’s been a little over 13 months now and no plans of stopping!
How did you learn how to drive an RV?
I drove my parents RV once before I bought my RV. My stepdad took me around the side streets in my neighborhood in Portland, OR (if you aren’t familiar with some of the streets in Portland, they are very tight and narrow!) and he gave me some pointers. A couple that I feel are invaluable to know are making wide turns and always be aware of low limbs and branches. Also the backup camera I installed is soooo helpful when backing up.
Any tips, tricks or hacks that you may be able to offer those who are just starting out?
Two things that I would highly recommend are composting toilets and solar! If you want to boondock more and stay out of RV parks, I feel like these two upgrades are the way to go. It will definitely save you money in the long run. Also a gym membership for showers. I use planet fitness and it’s $20 a month and you can go to any of their locations.
Is there one story that sticks out in your mind that makes the experience and journey all worth it?
There are so many stories when I think back on everything I’ve experienced since hitting the road, but I remember early on, probably in the first month, I found this Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in the desert and when I pulled in I was the only person in sight. I made a fire, cooked my dinner, and when it became dusk I climbed up on my roof with a glass of wine to watch the magical desert sunset. There was something about the combination of the mountains on the horizon that were all different shades of blue, the beautiful lake in the distance glimmered as the sun went down, and taking in deeps breaths of the air and my solitude, that gave me an overwhelming feeling of home and tears of pure joy and happiness streamed down my face. This of course isn’t an epic story of grand adventure, but it’s one that I think of often. I’ve only grown more in love with this life a year later and hope that this might inspire someone else to fulfill their dreams of life on the road.
Can someone message you if they have any questions about starting the RV/Van life?
Absolutely! I would love to help anyone who is curious or needs advice on this lifestyle.
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